Vikash Sharma

In a shocking incident, around six labourers from Odisha were charred to death in a fire mishap at a prawn hatchery in Repalle of Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours of Friday.

Guntur district Superintendent of Police Vishal Gunni said, “It looked like an accidental fire caused by an electrical short circuit.”

"Our Clues team is on the spot, collecting forensic evidence. Some bleaching powder and other residues were also found there. We are investigating the case from various angles," Gunni said.

Gunni said there was prima facie nothing suspicious. “We are talking to the staff of electricity and other departments to ascertain the cause of the incident," he added.

The owner and manager of the hatchery have been detained for questioning, the SP said.

As per preliminary reports, all the deceased people hail from Gunupur area in Rayagada district.

Sources said all the six labourers deployed at the prawn unit were sleeping in a house when the fire mishap occurred due to a suspected electrical short-circuit.

Around 25 labourers from Odisha were engaged at the prawn factory in the neighbouring State. Three to four other labourers are also said to be injured in the fire mishap.

A forensic team has started a probe into the incident. Sources said that there were some highly inflammable substance in the room which triggered massive fire following the short-circuit.

Expressing grief over the tragedy, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the next kin of the deceased. The ex-gratia will be provided through the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, official sources said.

(With PTI inputs)